HIGH TECH: “What technology did for the news and entertainment world (from remote control and instant replay to time shifting), it is doing now for independence. And the interesting element is that you can be independent but connected. You are not reliant on others to research a novel drug, or the theater schedule, or the new trash recycling schedule. You are more independent when your world is expanded.” Tobey Gordon Dichter, founder and CEO of Generations on Line, will be the keynote speaker at the PSRC’s fall conference, “Technology and Aging Independently”.
The Princeton Senior Resource Center (PSRC) is one of the true treasures in this lively town. Its many programs, classes, activities, and events ensure that everyone of a certain age can be involved, engaged, and up-to-date.
Up-to-date these days includes having at least a minimum hands-on working knowledge of computers and the related electronic devices and accoutrements of this high tech age.
Therefore: the PSRC’s upcoming fall conference, “Technology and Aging Independently,” will be held Saturday, November 1 at the Suzanne Patterson Building, 45 Stockton Street.
The conference is designed to address both user-friendly and cutting edge technology, says PSRC executive director Susan W. Hoskins, LCSW. “We want to make people aware of emerging technologies that can help them stay active in our community. It’s exciting to learn about these modalities that can help us stay socially connected, engaged in life-long learning, have unlimited information at our fingertips, stay healthier, and have tools to help us manage our lives as we age.”
The conference is the eleventh in the fall series, she adds. “Part of the PSRC mission is to educate the community and be a
resource to older adults and family caregivers. The first fall conference in 2004 was how to plan for the future, and last year it was the Brain Health Fair.
“The interest and attendance has grown over time, and last year, more than 200 people attended the conference. This is the first one on technology, and it is very important. It is creeping into our lives so much. People are reading and talking about it all the time, and we wanted to address it.”
There is much that technology can do to enliven and improve the lives of older individuals, she points out. “Technology is transforming. There are so many dimensions to it. For example, you can program your phone to remind you to take your medicine the same way that you program your phone to turn the lights on and off in the house.
“Today, there are Lifeline medical alerts and other devices, which include medication reminder systems. Lifeline also has added a monitor that shows if someone who has fallen is unable to push the button to notify Lifeline. In addition, there are LED lights that can illuminate each step on the staircase.
“As people age, their world can begin to shrink. Old friends move away or die; some people don’t want to drive at night. Devices like Skype allow you to ‘have tea’ with an old friend and stay connected. Technology can stimulate interest and improve cognitive skills, support social interaction and independence longer.”
There are six issues relating to wellness that help people from becoming lonely, she points out. “They are physical, cognitive, emotional, social, spiritual, and purpose. Technology can address so many of these points.”
Ms. Hoskins notes that PSRC already has computer classes and a computer lab, which attract many people, and that the conference is a way to expand that interest. “So many people really love coming here, and it is an incredibly diverse group.”
The conference, which is free to the public, will start off with a continental breakfast provided by the Princeton Care Center, include keynote speaker Tobey Gordon Dichter, founder and CEO of Generations on Line, followed by five workshops, and a light lunch provided by Brandywine Senior Living.
“Generations on Line is a national nonprofit company dedicated to simplifying the internet through special software available to more than 1800 facilities nationwide, including public libraries, senior centers, retirement communities, and low income elder housing,” says Ms. Hoskins. Ms. Dichter will address the many ways that technology is currently being used to help people maintain their independence.
Five workshops, from 10 a.m. to noon, will include:
• Getting Started: Laptops and portable devices, reliable internet resources, and online safety. Presenters: Don Benjamin and Barbara Lundy, PSRC ComputerLab experts.
• Entertainment and Social: Social media for connecting, reconnecting,
entertainment, and more. Presenter: Tom Callahan, Answers for Issues Consulting.
• Medical: Online consultations with physicians, electronic medical records, monitors, devices. Presenter: Barbara Vaning, Princeton Healthcare System Community Outreach.
• Home Safety: How to use technology in your home, home modifications, alert buttons. Presenter: Holly Hardaway, Independent Domain.
• Connect from Home: Learn how to pay bills, shop, Skype, use social networks, access library books. Presenters: Annette Murphy, Senior Care Management and Janet Hauge, Princeton Public Library.
Visitors to the conference will be able to attend two of the 45-minute workshops, says Ms. Hoskins. “Workshop presenters and their guests will introduce numerous opportunities that are currently available or coming soon.”
In keeping with Princeton’s recent designation by the World Health Organization as an “Age-Friendly Community,” PSRC is committed to enhancing the lives of the community’s older citizens in many ways, including emphasizing the benefits of technology.
“At every level, technology can help people live at that level longer,” points out Ms. Hoskins. “With technology, we can balance autonomy with safety. I take our mission as being a resource center very seriously — to gather information and get it out to the public. I look forward to seeing everything at the conference myself. All the new technologies are coming so quickly, and this conference is a way to expose everyone to all the possibilities.
“As our culture becomes even more technology-oriented, PSRC is committed to helping our community stay connected. This conference is an opportunity for anyone interested in the latest, most practical technologies to learn which gadgets, devices, and apps are useful, and which to ignore or reject.”
Having recently celebrated its 40th anniversary, PSRC looks forward to offering the public this opportunity to learn more about the world of technology, at the same time looking ahead to many more fall conferences to come. And, as an important part of Princeton’s “Age-Friendly Community”, PSRC is continuing to build on its foundation.
“Now, our task is how to make that focus an organic part of the community and establishing a network with other areas to share ideas. And after marking our 40th anniversary, we are now fired up for 40 more!”
The conference, which is scheduled from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., is open to the public. Pre-registration is strongly advised. (609) 924-7108.